Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

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KenDowns
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Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by KenDowns » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:12 pm

Another lazy snow-bound Sunday question.

Is it true that at any given moment you should know what weakness you are working on for each lift? Assuming you are past the point where you make gains just by showing up, can you make gains if you don't know what weakness to hit after the main lift?

Thinking about this, I realized I don't really know what my Press weakness is. I've hit a few rep PR's lately, but the 1RM hasn't budged in 16 months. I know that Press moves slowly but 16 months? Coincidence that I don't know my weakness and that I'm not particularly trying to bring up any weakness there?

So I know this:

Deadlift: Not pulling with lats, not setting upper back before lift
Squat: pitching forward, more as bad habit than weakness apparently
Bench: losing tightness, panic
Press: don't know (!)

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by Stephen Johnson » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:20 pm

@KenDowns:

How does your lower back feel while you press?
Thanks TimD

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by KenDowns » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:58 pm

Stephen,

It does not feel good or bad, though it will feel a bit packed for a couple of hours afterward. I wear a belt on the top couple of sets, helps me get tight in the belly which makes it easier to stop involuntary layback.

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by JasonJones » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:00 am

How often do you press? Strength is also a skill, and if you're not practicing the movement often enough it can be difficult to make sufficient progress.

Beyond that, I don't know that I would say it's important to know your weaknesses to progress so much as it's important to program for your weaknesses. If my lockout is weak I could do top half press from pins or push press. If the entire movement is weak I could program more volume. If I was weak out of the bottom I'd work on tucking my elbows. For 5/3/1 Wendler suggests going back to the first working set and performing an all-out set to shore up weak bench press, you could work that with press as well. All of these solutions could fix my weakness without knowing definitively what my weakness is.
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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by KenDowns » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:40 am

Jason,

February's theme has been foundation and skill. I press once/week, but have begun doing 10 singles as the main accessory. This has had an immediate result in terms of feeling the groove and comments from other lifters that my form has leapt forward.

Which means it might have been really awful before :sad:

Once I started with the 10 singles business I found the motion on press was quite smooth top to bottom if I just slowed down and maintained presence of mind. This week is my last session before a forced deload for business travel, so I may just push a lot of heavy reps and see what happens at higher weights, see if I can detect a weakness.

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by Stephen Johnson » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:08 pm

@KenDowns:

I guess that I was doing a little projection - years ago, my lower back was the weak link in my overhead press. But you might be different. Few exercises engage the whole body like overhead pressing - which means that few exercises have as many possible problem areas that affect performance.

Keep at it, though. You'll make new PRs eventually.
Thanks TimD

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by Matt Z » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:59 pm

You could also try Turkish Get-ups if your core is a weak link in your Military Press.

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by KenDowns » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:40 pm

When I first heard the guys here talking about the TGU's I figured they were some kind of advanced sorcery.

Now being banged up a bit and a bit stronger I can appreciate something that hits so many muscles. I would do them just for the shoulder stability.

Well anyway I've got a forced deload at the end of February during business travel, and I'll be setting up a new program after that, so let me ask, are these the kind of move you put at the end with light weight or closer to right after the main lift? What day? Sets/Reps?

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Re: Can you progress if you don't know your weakness?

Post by Matt Z » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:49 pm

I usually do Turkish Get-ups after Front Squats and High Pulls, since I can't go as heavy if I do them following my presses (Bench or Military). You'll want to start very light until you learn the lift, although you'll eventually be able to go fairly heavy. ... I like to keep the reps low (5 or less), since it's a tough exercise and I think form tends to suffer with higher rep sets.

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